Another year is in the books and it’s been a crazy one. From the top I want to thank everyone who has supported me, my content and anyone at the Daily Fantasy MMA team. I truly, truly appreciate it. I promise I will continue to work hard and help grow this platform and Daily Fantasy MMA, and I can’t wait for 2018. There will be a lot more to come..
P.S Sorry for the rambling I just wrote whatever came to mind. I added a bunch of headers in case you want to skip through.
DraftKings has gotten tougher since it launched MMA in early 2015, there’s no doubt about that. But it’s also steadily growing, and that’s important from a long-term perspective. We’re getting some big prize pools on PPV cards. We’re getting live finals and online finals, even if they take a horrendously long time to Qualify for. I can say that I’m happy with the growth of DF MMA in 2017, and I hope to see it continue to grow in 2018.
But as I said, it’s gotten tougher. In tournaments, with the big prize pools come bigger entrant fields. And by playing those, you are forcing yourself to hit close to optimal lineups in order to succeed. I’ve said it before and I will say it again but if you are a small-stakes player wanting to steadily grow your bankroll, those massive 150-entry max tournaments are not what you should be playing. They are very tough to profit in long-term. But if you want to chase big prize pools, that’s the way to go.
Cash games are tougher as well, but in looking back, not as tough as I made it out to be in my head. In 2015-2016 I won more than 65 percent of my h2hs. I don’t say that to brag, but in those two full years, cash games were EASY. Cash games were also my primary focus and that was partially why I excelled in them so much. But really, people didn’t catch on to stacking in cash for like a year, and there other are basic strategies like looking at the odds that people just ignored. Cash games were too easy.
In 2017 so far, I’ve won more than 60 percent of my h2hs. My ROI was several points lower in cash games than in the previous two years, but I still won more than 60 percent of h2hs and had a strong enough ROI that I profited quite a bit. In my head, the 5 percent difference felt like a lot, if felt like I was slipping almost. Cash games have gotten tough! But really, I need to be happy with this result. I have proven to myself yet again that I can beat cash games over a large sample size.
I also focused much more on tournaments this year than cash games, and while it was a blast at times, it was also much more difficult to get used to the swings. I am primarily a cash game player, and I always will be because that’s the way my mind works. But I like to chase the big money, and there’s not enough big money in cash games for me to get excited. But I’m good at cash games, and they are the best way to profit with consistency.
In 2018 my goal is to find a middle ground. In 2015-16 I was solely focused on cash games. This year I almost ignored them. In 2018 I need to put more emphasis on cash games and make them a bigger part of my portfolio.
I absolutely crush tournaments…in the month of April.
I didn’t play many tournaments in 2015, I didn’t have a big enough bankroll and I focused on cash. At least 80 percent of my money was in cash games and I built my bankroll up enough to the point where I could take some shots here and there on GPPs and eventually I hit. But even if I didn’t hit on tournaments, I was still profiting consistently with cash games, and that’s how you build a bankroll.
In 2016, I won five figures in the month of April in MMA GPPS. It was crazy. I thought I was so good. In the few months prior I had been keeping afloat but nothing amazing. But man, in April I crushed. However, from May-December, I barely won anything. Like I don’t know if I made any money at all in tournaments, I probably lost some.
The most important thing is to keep a long-term perspective in mind, and so over the course of 2016, I had a great year! I made five figures! But it all came in one month, and I was only able to survive for the other 11 months, keeping myself afloat in GPPs and making enough back in cash games to keep myself even. It was a rough feeling, going from so high to having tough weeks over and over again.
In 2017..same shit. Literally.
In January through March I was down in GPPs, continuing my ugly stretch from 2016. But April came and I had a couple big scores, including five figures in one night. IDK what it is about April but it brings me good luck. I was super happy during this time but I also knew what happened in 2016 and prepared myself for the swing to come.
Here’s the thing about GPPs, nobody is safe. If you are doing amazing in GPPs for the span of a week, a month or two months, your time will come. You will find yourself on the downswing losing for weeks or months at a time and you’ll be wondering what the hell happened. But I learned in 2016 and that helped me a ton. This is what GPPs are.. You have to understand that.
GPPs are SUCH high variance, if you put a ton of money in you cannot expect to win with any consistency. Only 20 percent of people cash from week-to-week in GPPs and so on any given week, you are UNLIKELY to cash. Add a bit of bad luck to that and you can rough stretches.
After April of this year, I slowly but surely lost my money in tournaments. Not all of it, but I consistently had losing weeks. Few hundred dollars there, couple hundred dollars there adds up. I did have a few good weeks, obviously, between April and December but there were a lot of bad ones.
Even further, a lot of the bad weeks were SO DAMN CLOSE to being good ones. I can count on multiple hands the times I was in a good spot to have a top 3 finish in a GPP or win a Qualifier and it ended up going against me. And not just against me, it went horribly wrong. I would need Gadelha to beat Andrade for a Qualifer seat and would end up LOSING money on the entire slate. Same with Volkov/Struve. Same with Bisping/GSP.
Part of it is bad luck, but the biggest part of it is variance. I am not the only one with these stories, literally everyone has these stories. If you are reading this, I am betting you have at least one story of bad luck similar to mine. That’s the thing, everyone has bad luck in the form of variance that is GPPs. They are hard as hell to win with any consistency, and that’s why you have to keep a long-term perspective in mind.
Over the course of year, I still won money, a lot of money. In 2017 I won a ton of money in tournaments. It’s that simple. You have to take the good weeks with the bad, and look at it from a year-to-year perspective. Did you profit in 2017 in cash games or in tournaments? If you profited, if you made money while playing week-to-week for an entire year, you did well. You should be happy you profited because not a lot of people can.
And if you didn’t, you have to figure out why. Use the DFS Analyzer here at RG. Where were your flaws? What are your strengths? What you can do about your weaknesses and strengths to improve and hopefully make more money than you did in 2017?
I find a lot of people, myself included come into this game with expectations too high. Like.. I want to make 100k. I want to be a professional. This game is VERYVERY HARD and there are tons of smart people out there. That’s why sometimes you can set unrealistic expectations for yourself and it can hurt when you don’t meet them. I’ve grown to understand how hard this game is, and now I’m realizing that I’m in this to make a good chunk of money over the course of the year. Not a million dollars. I’m not going pro. I just want to make some money.
One of the things that prevented me from winning a lot of money, was Qualifiers. A form of GPPs but where you need to get 1st place or you essentially bust. You have to win Qualifiers to get into the Live Finals, the big money contests etc, but they are super tough and are draining for the bankroll. I really wanted to Qualifier for the Bracket Q or the Survivor Q for MMA and so I spent a bunch of money chasing. I have never won one before.
Throughout the year I chased and I chased, and I literally got second 3-5 times. I honestly can’t remember. I know it was at least three times but it felt like five. Probably five if you count the time I tied with Marley and then lost the h2h. It sucked.
Finally, I won one. Yay. I have a $1,200 ticket for the Survivor Q that starts in 2018. I’m super excited about it, but I also spent a ton of money chasing to the point that I won’t really make money if I come in last, which is possible. And again, I know many of you have similar stories.
In 2015-16, I didn’t really chase Qualifiers, but in 2017 I did and that was a huge difference in my bankroll. If I didn’t play any Qualifiers in 2017 I would have profited a lot more, but I also wouldn’t have a 1/100 shot at 20k. What I’m trying to say, is that Qualifiers are a bankroll killer and I didn’t approach them properly. I didn’t think about how much money I was spending on them, I just chased. I have good enough bankroll management to know when I’m going too far, but I still could have been more cautious.
If I was trying to build my bankroll slowly and steadily, I wouldn’t play Qualifiers. Ever. They aren’t worth it. And even if you have a big bankroll, I wouldn’t recommend playing more than a couple percent of your yearly roll into Qualifiers. In 2018, I’m going to pick a number of dollars that I’m willing to risk losing in Qualifiers, and if I hit that number I will stop. Hopefully I hit early and that number never comes 🙂
From a non-theory perspective, wrestling was key in 2017 am I right? Even more than wrestling, the age of the quick finishers seems to be over. You don’t need a first round finish to score well, you don’t even need a finish at all!
There are a couple situations that I want to try and capitalize on in 2018. One of them is with fights like Ngannou/Overeem, where it’s a fight likely to end quickly with striking and the favorite is priced highly. I think we need to be very cautious about targeting high-priced fighters who are expected to finish very quickly assuming everything goes according to plan. If everything goes according to plan for Ngannou, he’s going to win by 1st round KO.
But in that scenario, at best, he gets a knockdown and maybe 20 signfiicant strikes. His absolute upside is 110, but there’s a strong chance he lands less than 20 sig. strikes, maybe even less than 10. So his realistic upside is 105. That’s good obviously, but again this is when everything goes perfectly. Ngannou was very high priced and there were plenty of fighters priced around him who could have also scored 100. He was also very popular.
As opposed to fights that are supposed to end quickly, I think it’s going to be especially important to target the highest paced fights. The fights with the most action, regardless of when the finish comes. We want fighters who march forward, pressure, wreslte, throw at a high rate and have no defense. In these types of fights, even if they go to decision, they still score super well.
In the Ngannou example, if it DOES NOT go according to plan, Ngannou has zero chance of being on the winning lineup. If he doesn’t win by knockout in round 1, he’s not scoring 100 points. If he wins by decision, he’s not scoring 100 points. If he loses, he’s not scoring 100 points. Again, at his high ownership, it just might not be worth it.
Another situation I’m looking to improve on is finding leverage spots and actually targeting them. A good example of two of these situations are in the Holloway/Aldo card.
Justin Gaethje taking on Eddie Alvarez. We know the way Gaethje fights, we know he comes forward and pressures, strikes at a high rate. We know his fights are crazy. We know that IF Alvarez wins, he’s going to score well. And we also know Gaethje is going to be extremely popular. I even recommending taking some shares of Alvarez for this reason, but I still put Gaethje in the majority of my lineups. Unlike a situation where Gaethje was a -400 favorite and priced cheaply, the fight wasn’t even 2:1. Alvarez had a legitimate chance to win based on the odds, but we still treated it like Gaethje was a massive favorite.
Ownership is an important factor here but we knew the ownership on Gaethje/Alvarez was not going to reflect the odds to win, and we should have been heavier on Alvarez. I know hindsight is 2020 but this is one we should have seen coming. Props to those who did.
The other scenario was Oliveira/Felder or Di Chirico/Bamgbose. A fight where the favorite is significantly underpriced and we expect the favorite to be popular. We also expect the fight as a whole to finish. In these situations, the overpriced underdog is just not popular, they make for excellent leverage spots.
In both of these scenarios I thought the underpriced favorite would win and so I put the majority of exposure in them. It worked out with Di Chirico but did not work out with Oliveira. I’m not saying this is wrong, but I do think we need to strongly consider the overpriced favorites for leverage. I wasn’t as sold on the spot with Bamgbose because I think he’s terrible and wasn’t even confident in a finish, but Felder I was confident would finish Oliveira if Oliveira did not get a quick submission. Still, I wanted to take the savings and so I used so much Oliveira.
The odds on the fight weren’t 4:1 in favor of Oliveira, it was essentially a pick ‘em but the ownership did not reflect a pick ‘em.
We live and we learn. I will keep a closer eye on these situations and make sure to express good leverage spots in the beat down when I find them.
I also put more focus into betting in 2017 than I had in any previous year. I started tracking my bets in April 2016 but it was mostly for fun. My unit sizes were small because my betting bankroll was small. I profited 43.97u in 2016.
In 2017 so far, I have profited between 11-12 units. That’s not a great number, but again, it’s profit. Just like in DFS, there was a stretch of time where I could not lose and felt invincible. I won 25 weeks out of 29 in a span from October 2016 to July 2017. Since that time I’ve won 5 weeks and lost 10 weeks, and I’ve lost nearly 20 units from my peak.
Part of it is bad luck, part of it is variance, part of it is mistakes I have made. But overall, with the good and the bad, I still made more than 10 units in 2017 and I can’t complain. I can only learn from my mistakes and try to improve in 2018.
Here are some things I have learned:
– I can consistently beat the line movement, but that doesn’t mean I have to beat the line movement. In other words, there have been spots that open too low, I know it’s too low and I know the line will move. I make the bet, the line moves, and then the bet loses.
Some of those situations I would absolutely bet again, but not all of them. Some of them were forced. Just because I can beat the line movement doesn’t mean I have to make the bet.
– An opportunity missed is not an opportunity lost. In other words, there are fighters who I think will win, and there are bets I make because I don’t want to miss out on an opportunity. Some of these bets are solid, but not all are. Sometimes I find myself making the bet because I’m “scared” to miss out, and I force it. Maybe it’s because everyone on Twitter has already bet them, maybe it’s an ego thing that I feel like I’ll suck if I don’t make a bet.
But in the end you have to be 100 percent confident in the money you put down, and that’s something I’ll look to improve.
– The betting community is filled with ego and it’s easy to get caught up in. The rankings. The units. The ROI. Some people live and die by this stuff, some people think they are better humans because they have more units of profit lol.
Betting isn’t about rankings, or any of that garbage. It’s just about being able to make some money over a long period of time, and to do it consistently. Just like DraftKings. As of now I have proven that I can do that. I’m certainly not “the best bettor in the world,” not even close. But I’m profitable and I can spot my flaws and learn from them, and hopefully I can continue to improve my game.
– Betting underdogs. I hardly ever pick underdogs to win outright in my predictions. And I hardly ever bet on dogs to win. But I’ve noticed a trend with my predictions that if I pick an underdog to win outright, I’m correct a large amount of the time. Of course, betting underdogs, you don’t need to even hit 50 percent of your picks to profit. I think there may be an opportunity to bet on more dogs that I pick to outright win.
– Parlays haven’t been my friend. I profited about 0.1u in parlays in 2017. I entered 40 parlays in 2017, the vast majority only had two legs but a few had three legs. Of those 40 parlays, ONLY ONE TIME DID I LOSE MORE THAN ONE LEGIN A PARLAY. Only once. That means, for the most part, my individual bets were good but I did a shitty job pairing them together.
Instead, if I only bet these individually and straight, I would have profited an additional 5.2 units. It’s obviously not enough of a difference to make or break your entire year, but 5.2 units is not insignificant. There’s definitely a bias toward making parlays, but they cost me in 2017. In 2018, that’s something I’m going to look to fix and hopefully gain a bit of edge.
Gambling can be a ton of fun if you are winning, and it can be a nightmare if you are losing. It’s not easy. If gambling were easy to win in the long run, everyone would do it.
That’s why it’s EXTREMELY important to analyze yourself and your strengths and weaknesses, and learn from them. I cannot encourage this enough. Variance is real and controls a portion of your year-to-year results, but skill wins out in the long run. If you improve on your game, work harder, your results will improve.
I am happy with my results in 2017, but I am not completely satisfied. There are many mistakes I made over the course of the year, traps I fell into, spots I overlooked. Bankroll management is more important than ever. And I want to improve upon all that in 2018.
Congrats to those who made money in 2017, I know there are a lot of you. Let’s do it again in 2018 🙂